Monthly Archives: March 2020

Jean Smith $100 USD painting sales increase significantly

From the be careful what you wish for department, sometime in January my paintings sales on FaceBook increased significantly after a regular buyer of my $100 USD paintings (and long-time Mecca Normal fan) showed her mother my work and explained both the investment potential and how sales above my monthly expenses ($1000 USD) go towards opening the Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change.

I have now totally lost track of how many the mother has purchased, but I’m sending them to her in packages of seven, sometimes twice a week. She is determined to make the artist residency happen!

With 78 paintings sold, February was an all-time record in the 4 years I’ve been painting daily and posting them for sale at $100 USD on FaceBook. A typical month until that point might be more like 30 paintings.

My small East Vancouver apartment is now something of a production line as I pull paintings from existing stock of 200, sign them, add a layer of gloss in batches of 10, allow that those to dry, while I package and ship others, all while maintaining my ever-evolving series including “Bathing Cap” “Headphones” “The Hat” and many others. I’ve been working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week to stay on top of things. Believe me I’m not complaining; it’s just a bit surreal.

Here’s a selection from the Oregon Collection which currently stands at 50+ paintings and counting. Literally.

Bathing Cap #24 800

Bathing Cap #24 (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas) $100 USD SOLD

Headphones #22 800

Headphones #22 (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas) $100 USD SOLD

The Hat #106 800
The Hat #106 (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas) $100 USD SOLD

Nurse #14 800

Nurse #14 (11 x 14″ acrylic on canvas) $100 USD SOLD




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Olympia with Bikini Kill

Postponed until October


Rolling Stone

Riot Grrrl spread in the March 2020 issue includes Mecca Normal “I Walk Alone” March 2020


RS image1 2RS image1 1200RS image1 crop

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Echo Park Film Center North Residency, Vancouver

What a great show yesterday! Am I allowed to say that? Sorry, no it wasn’t in that castle (in Berlin) below!

The room was full by the time we started, with a handful of late arrivals crammed into the foyer by mid set. It was important to Dave and I that we do a run through before upcoming big shows and I think everyone there knew that, yet it was definitely its own show and as such, it was fantastic! Wait. Am I allowed to say that

I was giddy from the get go. Thrilled that the car started after I connected the battery! On the drive to the venue (beautiful, sunny afternoon) I was rattling on to Dave about houses and mortgages, periodically asking if it was too much, with him replying that he wanted me to do whatever I needed to do in advance of the show and me saying back that I didn’t want to be overwhelming him. What a great band dynamic, eh?

Part of the endless thrills was no doubt due to the euphoria of selling so many paintings in February (78). Adding to this result is the basis of my situation — I don’t do any socializing, so it was fantastic to get a few hugs and more than a few laughs!

One of the themes was forgetting. Some of it due to age and changes of the brain, at other times it would be that events were simply a long time ago. One of those was the case of someone introducing himself and asking if I remembered him. Nope. Sorry! He showed me a photo on his phone of a show that I didn’t remember playing. His band, the name of which I didn’t remember, played. Then he went to Dave and I overheard the same scenario. Nope. Nope. And nope. Then I heard Wendy asking Dave to not let her forget her coat in a closet and I had to ask Dave to remind me to disconnect the battery after we loaded in.

As I was singing, I was thinking about the long history of… everything. Playing shows here and on tour, writing songs with Dave, our connection to Bikini Kill and Olympia. The venue — a park fieldhouse — was apparently significant to Dave because he grew up with them. The City of Vancouver has been offering these fieldhouses up for art and community projects and this one, run by Lisa Marr (formerly of Cub) is a satellite of her LA-based project, Echo Park Film Center. Walking into the space during the protest sign making workshop was… visceral in a way that’s specific to the length of time I’ve been around and my proximity to… and appreciation of… small, but very intensely focused projects that can and do have the potential to create the exact type of change they intend to, but also, above and beyond that, there’s a sense of explosive potential that’s palpable. The light, the height of the ceiling, the shadows on the wall, the temperature, the Indian sweets and samosas laid out with great generosity, welcoming gifts for both of us, many laughs in the sparkling repartee, warmth, a sort of astonishment swirling around accepting that we’re still here, alive and kicking, all these years later, meeting yet again to consider and respond to the ways of the world with how we structure our lives, what we create, how we share it. Knowing that for anyone who thought they missed the boat, that right now actually feels way better than it did in the 80s and 90s as far as personal interactions go. Now all the things we’ve learned along the way can be implemented into, for Mecca Normal, the very same structure. Tricks of the trade and knowing more about human nuances.

Lisa offered us the opportunity to use the fieldhouse for rehearsals. This is fantastic! I mentioned that I would like to write songs in a place where I’m not aware of my neighbours hearing me. I don’t like bothering people and I don’t want to be restricting my creativity. I’m looking forward to writing more loud and fast songs. And, when I move and open the artist residency, we can rehearse there at times when it works better for Dave to stay in Vancouver! It’s been bugging me how this would all work. The answer has arrived! It felt like a giant door had opened! Again, quite a visceral sensation.

All of this was after everyone had left. I’m jumping around here.

Nearing the end of the set, two people arrived and, as I was singing, I was thinking… cripes… we don’t have any extra songs… should we try and play longer, but… the end had already been established… but the great thing was that after we played the woman came over to the merch table and told me our bands played the same bill in Montreal. She didn’t know where and I didn’t recognize the name of her band. The Snitches. I asked if it was the show where the guy lit the pig’s head on fire. Nope. Then her husband came over and basically the first thing he said was funny and I said to her, “Wait. Is he funny?” She said that he was and that’s why she picked him. They found each other on OK Cupid. He’d also said something fairly fabulous about looking for someone who lived with specific intention… some lovely bit of romantic philosophy that resonated with her. He said she was funny too. This conversation was really great and I was wondering how much of it was because of the giddy relief of having done the show and had such a fantastic turn out and reaction or because I am wildly out of balance living in the solitude I’m thriving in. I’m not lonely, but some days I’m highly aware that the person I socialize with most is Mona at the post office and we talk about her daughter’s dog and her husband’s inversion table (as well as everything I’m doing).

I had an urge to say, “Hey, I’d be into getting together for coffee some time and continuing this great conversation!” Um, this is practically the opposite of my general stance of not meeting anyone for anything. So… what’s up with that? Some kinda glee had set in. I should say that this was the result of getting to a point of talking about narcissism. They had both nodded knowingly. “Not like vanity or whatever,” I clarified. “But the actual personality disorder.” And yes, they knew of what I spoke. So that was all good!

As people were leaving, I finally got myself over to the Indian sweets. There was a person sitting there who hadn’t been there for the show. We were introduced. The partner of one of the lovely organizers and a former member of Cub (three in attendance as the wonderful Valeria Fellini was there too!) All good, but I was hyper aware that this person was not on the wavelength that had been created in the room. Anyway, so I said to Lisa that I’d had a great conversation with these two people who had in fact been at other fieldhouse events, and I mentioned that I’d even suggested we meet for coffee. To which Lisa said, “But you don’t meet people for coffee.” Which was really funny because when we met last month to talk about the show, that was my thing. Not coffee. It turned out to be sushi. Better! So I said to Lisa, but to anyone who could hear, because when you’ve just done a show as a singing / speaking role, you’re “on” for as long as the audience members are there. It’s a continuation of the show and it’s what I love about smaller shows and I was riding yet another roller of the euphoric wave du jour. So I said to Lisa, “I met some really interesting people!” …but, as I said this I looked directly at the partner of the former Cub member sitting next to the plate of Indian sweet wearing a watchman’s cap pulled down low, almost over the eyebrows, totally different vibe, likely there to pick up their partner. Pick up… like, with a car. I still hadn’t managed to get at the Indian sweets. So (I’m getting there) I made eye contact right as I was saying “interesting people” and then, very aware that this had happened, I quickly looked back at Lisa and returned to the energy that had been built, some of which is me being slightly unfiltered and hoping for the best in terms of being funny. It’s a great dynamic that’s important to the complexity of our performance. So… I ended up looking back at the partner and saying, “I’m sorry but I haven’t known you long enough to know if you’re one of those interesting people.” …omg… who does that? Anyway, I didn’t get punched or anything, but I don’t think it was appreciated.

I almost had to pull over while I was telling Dave this story on the drive home. I was laughing so hard tears were blurring my vision.

There was a moment as we were pulling out of the venue parking lot that shows you what kind of guy Dave is. First, he made and brought small signs to direct people to the show from the road into the parking lot and then, as we drove back to the main road and I saw his signs for the first time. He said, “Should I take them down?” And I said, “No. Let’s leave them for posterity’s sake.” Which, I realized didn’t exactly make sense, but somehow these signs reminded me of a show we did in Berlin soon after the wall came down. Die Insel. The Island. Very difficult to find for very complex reasons — some of which were because of how streets and maps were being rejigged after the city was unified. Someone had gone out well in advance of our arrival and put up signs on posts for us and others to follow!!! Like, way beyond the call of duty, way farther afield than anything normal. We finally found the venue (photo below) and I’m sure someone was waiting there for us to help load in across the bridge! I hope I never forget the sensation of being shown where we would be sleeping. Three white mats laid out on the floor of a beautifully austere white room in this amazing Kulturhaus. One for both of us and one for our beloved tour meister and dear friend Dirk. Some nights it was difficult to find the angry feminist and man, those shows were long in Europe. They wanted an hour… sometimes two.

So Dave says, “I don’t want Lisa to have to take the signs down.”

How did I get so lucky to have such a considerate friend as David Lester?

Lisa G looking at my paintings
Die Insel Kulturhaus, Berlin


photos from the show by the great Bob Hanham

Time lapse video by Lisa Marr


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